It has been quite some time, but something really triggered me a couple of days ago that made it essential for me to fire up the straight talk section of my blog!
I recently went on holiday to get away from it all and although I wasn’t always on social media (as I wanted to take in my new surroundings) I obviously had a sneaky peak or two and then this thread came to my attention – please take a looksie:
Can we start a thread and post all of the white girls cosplaying as black women on Instagram? Let’s air them out because this is ALARMING.
— Wanna (@WannasWorld) November 7, 2018
As a black person, I am getting tired of the nonsense. I am all about embracing and learning about different cultures but not at the expense of the people that come from said original culture.
What I will say about this thread is that some girls have been unfairly placed on it as you can see that they are Caucasians with a tan and although they are trying to reach the trend of being racially ambiguous, you still recognise that they are white.
However, there are some people that are crazily transformed themselves and it is making me question if everything is okay upstairs?
For example, this Swedish influencer is casually sporting blackface and has had her content reposted on online social media platforms that are a) aimed at black women or b) tend to only post black women. If you always considered yourself white – why didn’t you say anything to these platforms when they were posting you to avoid being identified for someone you are not?
— CNEWS (@CNEWS) November 9, 2018
Some tried to justify this behaviour by saying that it’s just a tan and curly hair – but if so, why are they COMPLETELY UNRECOGNISABLE? People seem to be turning a blind eye to this behaviour and are ignoring the fact that these people are permanently in costume and have CONSCIOUSLY used their social media to make it appear that they are of black heritage without addressing it until someone has called them out on it.
Can’t forget Niykee pic.twitter.com/SjF0brIhpj
— 🖤🔪⚰️💣⛓💎💣🎮🎬🎱✨ (@ginamahre) November 7, 2018
— 🧕🏾 (@thotchronicles) November 7, 2018
I am concerned about this because it means that online we have a group of people who are not from the culture, with surface interaction with black people, being able to the control or influence the narrative of what it means to be black – without having the black experience.
Below I have listed some (silly) stereotypes and micro-aggressions that black people experience at least one point in their life, if not multiple times. Some of these are viewed as cool by some non-blacks which makes people believe that if they have some of these traits then they can automatically be considered as black:
- Eat lots of chicken
- Only listen to hip hop and RnB (Seen as cool)
- Know how to dance (Seen as cool)
- Good at sports or usually strong
- Speak cool / funny slang (Seen as cool)
- Black women have to wear weave because their hair is short
- Black women have big bums (Seen as cool)
- Black men have big “assets” (Seen as cool)
- Must be from Africa, The Caribbean or the USA
- Can be aggressive, angry or outspoken
I’m not going to lie some of these stereotypes do apply to some black people, I eat quite a bit of chicken and a know how to bust-a-move. However, the list above is not a definitive list of blackness and doesn’t represent all black people or the black experience itself. Yet there is always some non-black person that comes with a foolish statement like “I love chicken and know all the lyrics to most raps – I swear sometimes I’m black”.
I know some black people that, listen to heavy metal, are terrible dancers and are extreme introverts – they just don’t feel confident sharing this because the stereotypical expectations shared both within and outside the black community. The black experience is not the same for everyone but as someone in the UK there are some things that I think about that others don’t have to such as:
- Dealing with racism. Unfortunately, most people think it is something that is introduced in the adult years of their life, but I remember my first racist experience when I was 6 years old
- Thinking of ways to make non-black people comfortable when you are dressed in a tracksuit on public transport
- Ensuring that you communicate with a colleague in the workplace without being branded as aggressive
- Deciding whether to confront baristas at coffee shops when they hurry along their service to you or at times serve a white person before they serve you
- Going into a shop and being followed because security think you may steal/don’t know if you can afford items
- Going to a gym class and not being recognised by your instructor despite being the longest-serving person in attendance
- Not wanting to interact with the police or a similar form of law enforcement to avoid being treated unfairly because of the colour of your skin
- Working harder than some of your counterparts and never receiving recognition for in a workplace because you are invisible in the workforce
The points I listed above mainly deal with a few negative experiences I have had in the UK and once again is not a definitive list of the black experience. We have people that are slipping into the costume of being black and cherry picking the aspects they like about our culture without having to experience the price that we permanently pay for being black. When you wear a black person like a costume, you are automatically dehumanising them as people and make it socially acceptable for black people’s voices to be disregarded in society.
A fantastic example of black people not being seen as equal in society is demonstrated with the high amount of police brutality in the US where black people are being killed by law enforcers every other day or even in the UK. During our times of Brexit confusion and economic uncertainty, the Government have managed to find £150,000 to donate towards the Madeleine McCann investigation. The story is sad but there are loads of other children of all ethnicities who are missing – Madeleine has been missing for 11 years and 6 months at the time of writing. In the UK, particularly London, there has been a massive surge in knife crime, where multiple children and teens killed are black. But surprise, surprise the Government has no money to fund projects that can reduce this. They would much rather fund the daily reporting that another black person has been killed by a stabbing.
Just in case you believe that I am digressing – I don’t believe these girls are the causing for London stabbings (lol) – I just think that cosplaying black women devalues black people on a smaller scale and I’ve demonstrated its dangers on a larger scale in the media.
There many other reasons that people think it is okay to pretend to be black and I feel that it is due to the fetishization of people from a mixed/exotic background. There are certain brands, especially in fashion, that are promoting racial ambiguity. Why?
It is easier to market across different territories when people find it difficult to find out where a person is from, it, in turn, becomes harder for a person to judge them and make a negative assumption. I’m not trying to knock their hustle but brands that really promote this borderline racial ambiguity are PrettyLittleThing and Fashion Nova. I don’t know what is happening to society, but it seems cool to be a little bit black but not fully black.
I remember dating a white guy once and after the multiple bemused looks I would get for being a black woman dating a white man, the next top social interaction was to blurt out that “[Our] kids were going to be beautiful” I had been on dates with black men and no one had said that to me before – suggesting that if my child is fully black they wouldn’t be beautiful.
It seems hard for people to admire blackness as a full race – it always needs to be mixed with something before people decide to recognise its true beauty. This is an ongoing problem within and outside of the black community – but issa no from me boo.
Lest not forget the historical references associated with pretending to be black. It is essentially a modern manifestation of a minstrel show. Minstrel shows began in the 1830’s and where white people would be physically blacked out to mimic the behaviours of black people who were not allowed to become entertainers (as most were slaves). It led to minstrels depicting black people to negative stereotypes such a being lazy, stupid and buffoonish. All of this effectively works to dehumanise the black person once again.
I could go on and on about the topics, but it seems to be a trend and it needs to stop. We had Rachel Dolezal’s and Anthony Ekundayo Lennon. The reason I am so sensitive about this is that essentially, I see a bunch of people online messing with MY CULTURE. There’s a difference between embracing someone’s culture and just stealing the parts that you like to selfishly benefit yourself.
Some may read this article and ask me why I am making everything about race and argue that I need to move on, but the point of the matter is – I will move on when all issues have been sorted out. The only reason the same thing comes back again is because we never truly spent the time to solve it, so a more modern problem with the same issues presents itself again and again. It will only stop when it is obliterated on all levels not just from black people but ethnic non-black people as well as white people.